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Skilpadjies

Traditional Skilpadjies

BY Dennis Strydom

A traditional South African braai favourite.


  • Prep Time : 20 mins |
  • Cook Time : 15 mins
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500 g cleaned liver (ask your butcher to do this for you)
1 C (250 ml) yoghurt
1 C (250 ml) Ratafia
50 g onion finely chopped
clove garlic finely grated
1 tsp (5 ml) freshly chopped thyme
pinch of ground cloves
salt and pepper to taste

12 pieces of caul fat cut into a square about 12×12 cm

Make sure the livers have been properly cleaned and that all tubes and membranes have been properly removed.

Divide into two bowls of 250 g each; cover one with yoghurt and one with Ratafia. This will tone down the taste of the liver and impart flavour. Cover and leave overnight, in the fridge. Don’t worry if the colour changes, this is natural.

The next day drain off the yogurt and Ratafia; rinse the livers in cold water and pat dry. Chop by hand to create a rough mince texture (avoid using a food processor as it is easy to mistakenly purée it).

Add the rest of the ingredients (except the caul fat) to the liver mixture and mix well. Divide into 12 equal sized balls.

Place the liver mixture in the centre of the square of caul fat and wrap around creating a round shape, fasten with a tooth pick and keep refrigerated until ready to cook.

Braai Cooking
To cook, prepare a braai to have medium heat coals – if the coals are too hot the outside will be burnt and the inside will remain raw. Brush with a little oil to stop them from sticking to the braai grid.

Take your time; don’t rush the cooking process, this going to take 15-20 min depending on the skilpadjie’s thickness.

They are done when the fat surrounding them is crisped up, and the inside has a slight pink tinge.

Eat them immediately otherwise they will lose their juices and become dry.

Stove and oven cooking

Heat a heavy-bottomed frying pan or griddle pan to very hot; oil the skilpadjies rather than adding oil to the pan, otherwise it could smoke quite a lot.

Fry the skilpadjies a little on each side colouring them and rendering the fat.

Place on a roasting rack in an oven dish so that they do not sit in the fat and bake for 3-5 minutes, depending on how cooked you prefer them. Cooking them fully is not advised.

Serve hot, immediately when cooked, leaving them to cool down too much will let them lose their juices and dry out.

Serve as a canapé on a stick with an off-sweet pickle or preserve, or plate with melba toast as a starter.